Wen Ling Choong

Programme: Global Online MBA

Nationality: Malaysian

Undergraduate education: Bachelor of Medical Sciences in Anatomy with Forensic Anthropology, Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, Masters by Research in Vascular Medicine and Therapeutics, the University of Dundee

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Specialty Registrar in General Surgery, NHS Tayside

Global Online MBA 2018-20

Professional background

I am a doctor sub-specialising in General Surgery with an interest in Breast Surgery. I started medical school in 2006 and graduated in 2012. Currently, I’m pursuing my general surgical training (ST5) full-time while studying for my MBA part-time.

Choosing an MBA

I have always been intrigued by the dynamism of the business world and the endless learning and growth opportunities that it provides. Furthermore, with the rise of complex challenges faced by the healthcare sector, there is demand for doctors to be equipped with business management skills to run their practices better. Therefore, the decision to pursue an MBA has always been on my mind. With the support of my family and working colleagues, I have finally decided to take a leap of faith to apply for the Imperial Global Online MBA. This programme provides me the best of both worlds, one it is a reputable Global Online MBA and two, I can pursue this MBA part-time while practicing as a full-time surgeon.

The Imperial factor

I chose to apply for the Imperial Global Online MBA knowing that the Business School is in the forefront of business innovation, entrepreneurship and technology. In addition, the location of the Business School was important for me as I would prefer to be able to travel with ease for the on-campus events. The choice was made even easier when my husband, who is an alumnus of Imperial College London, speaks highly of the university and convinced me that this programme would be the best choice considering my circumstance. The other point that helped with my decision making is how the Imperial Global Online MBA programme is delivered. The programme is delivered online via the easy to use online platform called The Hub. The content, on the other hand, is delivered via a mixture of pre-recorded videos, interactive lectures and live sessions with our professors and teaching assistants to keep learning as interactive as possible.

Learnings on the programme so far

I have just completed the first year of my Global Online MBA. The year has been mostly knowledge based learning with case studies to help with knowledge application. The topics we have covered so far include Managerial and Financial Accounting, Organisational Behaviour, Strategy and Corporate Finance, Global Marketing and Managerial Economics. Furthermore, as part of leadership development, we embark upon our Personal Leadership Journey which aims to provide us with the self-awareness of our strengths, areas of improvement and to keep track of our own personal career goals. Each of the MBA students are provided with a dedicated personal careers consultant for career related advice.

Improving my skills

As I came from a non-traditional background, the MBA poses a steep learning curve to me. In times where I find that the taught topics were challenging, there are always ample of resources available e.g. books, online readings etc. If the former did not satisfy my learning needs, help is always an email away. Both the TAs and the Professors in the programme have been very quick in replying their emails and have been helpful and encouraging. What I really like about the programme is that it trains you to have independent thoughts and presents a balance between faculty-led teaching and self-directed learning. The most important thing is the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realised how little I know. This is indeed a very humbling experience.

Meeting lifelong friends

I have been very fortunate to have great syndicate team members who have supported each other through thick and thin. There are a lot of life events going on alongside our studying, we have people who haven’t been well or have family members being unwell, people going away, getting married and one of my group mates just had a new born baby! We have really supported each other through this and taken on roles to help each other out. One of my syndicate group mates, Si Li, was actually my bridesmaid at my wedding earlier this year. You actually make lifelong friends in your syndicate groups. We have been very lucky.

Overall, our cohort is very diverse, people come from different countries with different backgrounds. I would highly advise for future Global Online MBA candidates to attend the induction week. I’ve met a lot of classmates that I still keep in touch with.

Career goals post-MBA

In the shorter term, I would be interested to be part of healthcare startups or entrepreneurial projects. The Business School provides many platforms for one to do so e.g. MBA cafes to meet like-minded people and more niche programmes like the MedTech SuperConnector. My plans are use the opportunity to meet healthcare enthusiasts in the Management of Healthcare Challenges elective in my second year of the programme and if the opportunity is right, I would be keen to start-up our own venture leveraging the knowledge and skills gained from the MBA in a more practical sense.

In the longer-term, I plan to complete my surgical training in the next three to four years, and with both my medical and business knowledge gained, I plan to enter higher level healthcare management. I believe that the MBA would equipped me with the management knowledge and business acumen to thrive in the ever increasingly complex healthcare environment. It is evident that the healthcare sector are facing more pressures to become leaner with budget constraints, therefore, there exist plenty of opportunities to be innovative about how we do things.

Juggling the work-life balance

Honestly, it is not easy to juggle my time between being a full-time general surgical trainee, pursing my part time MBA and making sure that I am living my family life to its fullest. However, as cliché as it sounds, I strongly believe that if you have the will, you will find a way. I have managed to complete my first year of the course by effectively planning my work-MBA-life schedule well in advance, being super organising, and prioritising everything I do. Efficiency is the key. From a personal life aspect, I was very fortunate to have a very supportive spouse who happens to be pursuing the Imperial Weekend MBA at the same time so we both understood the demands of an MBA but shall always make quality time for each other.

Advice for prospective students

If you have ever thought about pursuing an MBA, you should definitely explore the possibility of pursuing one. It will not be easy, especially for those who come from a non-traditional background. Personally, I think it is worth the blood, sweat and tears and I have to say that it has been an absolutely exhilarating first year for me. After all, to grow, you have to embrace the experience and stay uncomfortable. I am more than happy to be contacted if you would like to get any advice about the Imperial Global Online MBA.

Programme: Global Online MBA

Nationality: Malaysian

Undergraduate education: Bachelor of Medical Sciences in Anatomy with Forensic Anthropology, Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, Masters by Research in Vascular Medicine and Therapeutics, the University of Dundee

Job prior to Imperial College Business School: Specialty Registrar in General Surgery, NHS Tayside